Croatia and Real Madrid star Luka Modric was named FIFA’s player of the year on Monday night, ending a decade of dominance for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Modric, 33, had already claimed the Golden Ball for best player at this summer’s World Cup after his nation made the final and won UEFA’s player of the year last month.
The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder enjoyed a triumphant return to London when he came away with another glittering gong from the climax of the Best FIFA Football Awards show at the Royal Festival Hall.
This result saw him edge out Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, plus holder Ronaldo now of Juventus and Portugal. Barcelona and Argentina’s Messi did not make the final shortlist.
Compered by British actor Idris Elba and featuring a performance by Noel Gallagher, the awards are in their third year in this guise having previously been a joint venture with France football’s Ballon d’Or between 2010 and 2016, and before that the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
Since 2008, it has been Messi first and Ronaldo second five times, and Ronaldo first, Messi second five times.
Ronaldo, 33, who joined Juventus this summer in a £99 million deal, helped Madrid win a third-straight Champions League title last season, his fifth in total, with 15 goals in the tournament.
But Portugal did not progress beyond the last 16 in Russia.
Modric was also a key member of that Madrid side but he also drove Croatia to their first appearance in a World Cup final, where they lost 4-2 to France.
Salah, like Ronaldo, was not at his peak in Russia but he at least had the excuse of not being fit following his controversial tangle with Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final. The Egyptian had previously struck 32 Premier League goals – a record for a 38-game season.
The men’s prize was one of nine awards up for grabs.
Salah’s strike in last season’s Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield won the FIFA Puskas Award for the goal of the season.
France’s Didier Deschamps was, unsurprisingly, named coach of the year. Orlando Pride and Brazil icon Marta came away with the women’s player-of-the-year gong.
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